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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Warriors' intensity heating up

 •  Running back from Nevada joins Warriors

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

"We have a different work effort, a different attitude (from last year)," quarterback Colt Brennan says. "We can't wait to get going."

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Senior defensive end Melila Purcell, left, will be counted on to pressure opposing quarterbacks again this season.

Advertiser library photo

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This week, University of Hawai'i defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville is spending a day with each position coach.

The two will go over playbooks, watch hours of football videos, quiz each other and then go through plays on the football field. On Monday, it was defensive line coach Jeff Reinebold, in slippers and surf shorts, trying to pass rush an over-turned garbage can while Glanville watched and questioned.

"It was just me and Sun God out there," Glanville said, referring to the sun-bronzed Reinebold. "It was a nice day because it was all about football. Every day should be like this. That's why I can't wait to get it going (for tomorrow's opening of training camp)."

The players shared the enthusiasm. Yesterday, they completed their final 7-on-7 passing drills of their self-supervised summer program.

"Last year was a completely different intensity (entering training camp)," quarterback Colt Brennan said. "Now we know what we have. We know what type of team we can be. We're not going out there to fill spots. We're here to win games. The intensity is great. We have a different work effort, a different attitude. We can't wait to get going."

The invited players report to training camp tomorrow. They will undergo medical tests, and attend classes on NCAA rules. For the two weeks of training camp, the Warriors will reside in the dance studios on the second floor of the athletic department complex.

The first practice is Friday morning.

Here's a breakdown of this year's team, with projected starter in bold face:

QUARTERBACK

Candidates: Colt Brennan, Will Brogan, Inoke Funaki, Tyler Graunke.

Outlook: Brennan admittedly had a 75-percent comprehension of the four-wide offense last year, when he led the nation in total offense (371.2 yards per game), passing yards (4,301) and touchdown passes (35). What's more, he played despite separations to both shoulders. Brennan is healthy, and he spent the offseason trying to improve his already impressive efficiency. Last year, Brennan completed 68 percent of his passes; more remarkably, he had 41-percent accuracy on passes traveling at least 20 yards downfield from the line of scrimmage. UH's goal is 35 percent for such passes. Tim Chang, the NCAA career passing leader, was in the low 30s. Dan Morrison, who mentors the quarterbacks, said Brennan's best quality is the ability to "handle pressure so well. He thrives on it. The higher the level of pressure, the more he likes it."

Player to watch: Graunke, who started last year's opener, was mislabeled as a "running quarterback." In fact, Morrison said, Graunke has a "fast arm. He's strong. His passes have really good velocity."

RUNNING BACK

Candidates: Jazen Andersen, Josh Berry, David Farmer, Nate Ilaoa, Reagan Mauia, Jayson Rego, Siave Seti.

Outlook: Ilaoa is roughly the same weight (240 pounds) as when he reported to last year's training camp. But last year he still was recovering from a knee injury, which limited his aerobic workouts. This time, Ilaoa is physically fit, having participated in every summer workout. He ran 40 yards in 4.65 seconds, best among the running backs; bench pressed 225 pounds 30 times, and performed 121 sit-ups in two minutes. Playing despite a painful turf toe last season, his first as a running back after moving from slotback, Ilaoa led the Warriors with 643 rushing yards and was third with 917 all-purpose yards. Only two of his 85 carries were for negative yards. He also averaged more than one broken tackle per play. "He's the real deal, really," said Mouse Davis, who coaches the running backs. "He sees things other people don't see. And if he's in tough situations, he naturally reacts to them. He's got excellent ability to make the extra 10, 15, 20 yards." Ilaoa's yards-after-catch average was 9.0 last year.

Player to watch: Mauia, a converted nose tackle, has lost 75 pounds since the end of the 2005 season and now weighs 285. Mauia, an offensive lineman in junior college, is a physical blocker, a must in an offense that does not utilize a tight end. Mauia, who can squat-lift a team-high 640 pounds, ran 40 yards in 4.89 seconds last spring.

RECEIVERS

Left wideout: David Kaihenui, Antwan "Tua" Mahaley, Chad Mock, Jason Rivers.

Left slotback: Aaron Bain, Davone Bess, Mitch Farney, Michael Washington.

Right slotback: Jason Ferguson, Marquez Jackson, Ryan Grice-Mullins, Patrick Olchovy, Rick Taylor.

Right wideout: Ross Dickerson, Malcolm Lane, Dylan Linkner, Ian Sample.

Outlook: The return of Rivers (who missed last season because of an injury and academic issues) and Ferguson (season-ending knee injury in 2005 opener), and the possible return of Sample, who is petitioning to play as a sixth-year senior, boost the Warriors' deepest area. Mock, Rivers, Bess, Washington, Ferguson, Grice-Mullins, Dickerson and Sample have started for UH. While Bess and Grice-Mullins had breakout freshman seasons in 2005, each amassing more than 1,000 receiving yards, Bess has set the standard with his offseason workouts. "I've never coached a kid who has worked as hard," said Ron Lee, who tutors the receivers. After recovering from a groin injury, Bess began training two weeks after the end of the 2005 season. He gained eight pounds of muscle, and now weighs 195. "I'm happy with the weight," Bess said. "I don't want to lose it. I've been working hard. I want to get better and better. I don't ever want to be satisfied."

Player to watch: Washington was impressive during spring practice, but it is another slotback, Ferguson, who has been a summer sensation. Ferguson has recovered from the torn knee ligament, and appears to be back in form. At the end of the 2005 training camp, Ferguson was ahead of Bess and Grice-Mullins.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Left tackle: Keith Ah Soon, Tala Esera, Joey Lipp.

Left guard: Brysen Ginlack, Daniel Johnson, Laupepa Letuli, Hercules Satele.

Center: Marques Kaonohi, Samson Satele, Clarence Tuioti-Mariner.

Right guard: Cameron Allen-Jones, John Estes, Larry Sauafea.

Right tackle: Kavan Bannigan, Aaron Kia, Keoni Steinhoff, Adrian Thomas, Dane Uperesa.

Outlook: Esera and Uperesa return as starting tackles, and the team's best lineman, Samson Satele, moves from left guard to center. Line coach Wes Suan said Satele should make an easy transition. "(Center) fits his personality," Suan said. "He's a good athlete. He's very knowledgeable about the whole offensive front. He has a great awareness." Satele bit his mouthpiece, and never complained publicly about his sore right shoulder last season. "His shoulder is fine," Suan said. "He's got a great toughness about him. He'll play with injuries. He had small ow-ies all the way through the season, and he never complained." His cousin, Hercules Satele, is expected to start at left guard.

Player to watch: Estes, a second-year freshman, is expected to start at left guard. Estes, who also can play center, is the cousin of Makoa Freitas, an offensive lineman with the Indianapolis Colts, and UH nose tackle Kahai LaCount.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Left end: Renolds Fruean, Fale Laeli, Elliott Purcell, Melila Purcell III, David Veikune.

Nose tackle: Kahai LaCount, Michael Lafaele, Rocky Savaiigaea, Lawrence Wilson.

Right end: Ikaika Alama-Francis, Jake Ingram, Jared Lene, Karl Noa, Keala Watson.

Outlook: The Warriors had a difficult adjustment from the 4-3 alignment, which was run by three coordinators in Jones' first six seasons as UH head coach, to Glanville's 3-4 scheme last year. The ends were too light in the 3-4, making it difficult to slow opposing team's running attack. The two starters bulked up (Alama-Francis is now 290 pounds), and nose tackles Laeli and Watson moved to end. "We have serious depth out there," line coach Jeff Reinebold said. The key to the scheme is the unheralded Lafaele, who fights off double teams every play. Lafaele, a brown belt in karate, played well against Wisconsin center Donovan Raiola last year. Lafaele dropped some pounds, he now weighs 305, and maintained his strength while improving his endurance. "We expect him to play longer stretches," Reinebold said. "There's a lot of attention paid to those other two guys (Alama-Francis and Melilia Purcell), and Michael will be overlooked he'll be overlooked by everyone except the guy he's lined up against on Saturday nights."

Player to watch: Fruean, who can play all three positions, appears to have recovered from a severe ankle injury. "He played on one foot all last year," Reinebold said. "He really showed me great courage. Imagine what he can do when he's healthy."

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Left: Bully Fergerstrom, Tyson Kafentzis, R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane, Amani Purcell, Brashton Satele.

Right: C.J. Allen-Jones, Micah Lau, Stephen Lei, Karl Noa, Khevin Peoples.

Outlook: "The worst thing that happened to me," Glanville said, "is graduation. We lost two good outside 'backers." Not only did Tanuvasa Moe and Kila Kamakawiwo'ole complete their eligibility, but John Fonoti, who was expected to succeed Moe on the left side, will skip this season. Kafentzis, Satele and Purcell are the top replacement candidates. Allen-Jones, who was married on Saturday, is the best man on the right side. He played in 10 games as a freshman in 2004, but redshirted last season. "He was in the mix as a freshman because we had so many people hurt," said George Lumpkin, who coaches the outside linebackers. "He didn't really know what he was doing, but he was out there doing what he could." But Allen-Jones proved to be an effective pass rusher and pass defender during spring practice. Unlike Kamakawiwo'ole, who often went into a three-point stance, Allen-Jones is exclusively a stand-up guy.

Player to watch: Purcell, who transferred from Penn State last year, could be an impact player if he becomes eligible. He needs to earn an A in a summer-school class.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

Strong: Solomon Elimimian, Timo Paepule, Blaze Soares.

Middle: Adam Leonard, Josh Rice, Rustin Saole.

Outlook: Elimimian, whose older brother was a four-year starter at cornerback for UH, wasted little time in making a name for himself, earning both a starting job and leadership role as a freshman last season. As the "buck" linebacker (positioned on an offense's strong or tight end side), Elimimian made all of the defensive calls. "He rolled into it," coach Cal Lee said. "He took over the position, and never gave it up. He's got a nose for the ball." He even was the Warriors' leading tackler last year, with 83, although a few days after that, some book-keeping hocus pocus moved Kamakawiwo'ole ahead in the final "official" statistics. Leonard, who has recovered from a knee injury that wiped out his senior year in high school, enters as the other starting inside linebacker. "He's hungry," Lee said. "When you're hungry, you always go after something."

Player to watch: Soares, who was named to the All-State first team three times as a Castle High School linebacker, is joining the Warriors after spending a year earning credits at Hawai'i Pacific University. Soares, who is 6 feet 2 and 225 pounds, runs like a safety, and can bench press 350 pounds five times.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Left cornerback: Chris Camacho, Keenan Jones, A.J. Martinez, Kenny Patton, Greg Salas, C.J. Tausaga.

Strong safety: Geoff Hayth, Brad Kalilimoku, Michael Malala, Jacob Patek, Erik Pedersen, Desmond Thomas.

Free safety: Kirk Alexander, Josh Aufai, Leonard Peters, Dane Porlas, Spencer Smith.

Right cornerback: JoPierre Davis, Guyton Galdeira, C.J. Hawthorne, Gerard Lewis, Myron Newberry.

Outlook: The secondary is being rebuilt, with Peters and Patton as the only returning starters. Peters missed all but one half of the last year's opener, and Patton practiced at wideout during spring training. Martinez and Hawthorne, a junior college transfer who enrolled at UH in January, were the top cornerbacks at the end of the spring. But newcomers Camacho, Jones, Salas, Lewis and Newberry are expected to challenge. Kalilimoku and Peters might be the strongest safeties in the nation. Each can bench press more than 400 pounds. Kalilimoku, a converted inside linebacker, can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds. Peters has been timed at 4.3 seconds. "Leonard ran 4.4 for the scouts (in May)," secondary coach Rich Miano said. "He'll clock 4.3 for some people, 4.4 for others. He's the fastest guy on the team."

Player to watch: Patek is battling to unseat Kalilimoku at strong safety. Patek also is under consideration when the Warriors use schemes involving five or six defensive backs.

SPECIALISTS

Place-kicker: Briton Forester, Daniel Kelly.

Punter: Kenji Hollaway, Kurt Milne.

Long snapper: Jake Ingram.

Kick returner: Ross Dickerson, Malcolm Lane.

Outlook: Kelly will have to adjust to the new rule in which the kickoff tee will be lowered from 2 inches to 1 inch. That should result in more returns. That will be good for Dickerson, who will return kicks for the first time in two years. Lane, who is a recent graduate of a high school in Germany, also will receive a look.

Player to watch: The biggest impact is the loss of John Fonoti, a wedge-buster who won't play this season. Brashton Satele, who is quick (4.56 seconds over 40 yards) and fearless (son of former UH linebacker Alvis Satele), will handle that role.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.